Update: Danuel House will miss Game 4 against the Lakers, and Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni did not sound incredibly optimistic he’ll return during this series.
The NBA’s official injury report released minutes ago continues to list Danuel House Jr. as out due to “personal reasons.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 10, 2020
Mike D'Antoni on whether Danuel House Jr. will be available the rest of this series: "I don't know. The investigation is going on. When they come out with their ruling, then we'll just go from there."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 10, 2020
Original story follows.
Houston Rockets guard Danuel House missed Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals due to what his team only termed “personal reasons” at the time, but heading into Game 4 of their series against the Los Angeles Lakers, we may have finally gotten the real story.
ESPN was the first to report that House was under investigation for a violation of the league’s coronavirus protection protocols, which was followed by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reporting what exactly House is accused of doing:
Yahoo Sources: Houston Rockets guard Danuel House Jr. under investigation for potentially allowing a female COVID-19 testing official into his room. https://t.co/EyrjgJD5sl— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 10, 2020
Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic provided more details:
A female entered the Rockets’ team hotel on Monday night, passing multiple security checkpoints before being flagged for her entry, sources said. She exited the hotel in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and the league cited early data points that implicated two members of the Rockets, House and Tyson Chandler, sources said. When the female was questioned by NBA security, she did not implicate House’s name and it is uncertain whether she remains on campus, sources said. She claimed to have contact with Chandler and another player, not named House, according to sources.
According to sources, the Rockets’ entire team had to enter a quarantine period on Tuesday due to the potential exposure. Those sources said there appears to be no video connecting House and the female; only the flagging of her entering and leaving the hotel, and the possibility of a door opening and closing to match those timelines. The NBA has informed involved parties that it has circumstantial evidence implicating House.
It should be noted that House is reportedly denying all the allegations, but we will see if the league believes him, or how it handles this potential violation moving forward, both heading into Game 4 on Thursday night and beyond.
If House is forced to miss another game, the Rockets will be once again limited in how many bodies they have to throw at LeBron James, although how effective House has truly been in that role is a matter of debate. James has shot 60% from the field when House is on the court and 52.5% when he’s not in this series, according to NBA.com, so it’s not as if he’s been some shutdown defender on James, although don’t bring that up to Rockets fans taking this as their latest tin-foil hat conspiracy theory in a long line of them.
Should House be declared out, the Rockets will also likely continue to play an extremely tight rotation, a staple of Mike D’Antoni teams. D’Antoni only played an eight-man rotation on Tuesday night without House. And Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore only played 11 and 10 minutes, respectively, so it was almost like a six or seven-man rotation, essentially. Can Houston continue that pattern, or will the Rockets have to dust off some other players if House is ruled out? Will the fatigue from playing so many key guys big minutes start to affect them even if he plays? Only time will tell the answer to either of those questions and more.
The Lakers and Rockets will tip-off Game 4 at 4:00 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT.